Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Colombian Ajiaco Soup Recipe

As fall approaches and temperatures drop, stay warm with a hot dish. I'm celebrating the final week of Hispanic Heritage Month with a vegetarian version of sabroso Colombian Ajiaco soup.

Popular in Bogotá, the traditional recipe features chicken, three kinds of potatoes and guascas, an herb originally from the Andes. To make the soup meatless without losing substance, I replaced the chicken with brown rice, which has more fiber and minerals than white rice.

I served this receta to amigas this weekend and we all agreed--¡muy rico!

Vegetarian Colombian Ajico Soup Recipe


  • 6 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 3 ears fresh corn, each cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cayenne pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 medium yellow potatoes, chopped
  • 3 medium white potatoes, chopped
  • 3 medium red potatoes, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried guascas
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked rice to replace chicken (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream for serving (optional)
  • 1 cup capers for serving
  • 3 medium avocados, sliced, for serving



  1. Make vegetable broth. Combine water and any chopped vegetables including carrots, onions, celery, red pepper, cilantro, and garlic cloves. Cook the vegetables for approximately 1 hour at medium heat. Strain the broth and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, saute scallions and garlic for 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, cilantro, potatoes, and chopped cayenne. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature to medium-low and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover partially and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add rice, lime, carrot and guasca and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve and garnish with cream, capers, and avocados.

Makes 6 servings.


The guascas give Ajiaco its authentic flavor, however this herb can be hard to find. Also known as Gallant Soldier, the plant is often considered a weed in the United States. I was able to find some growing in a local community garden. Look at ethnic markets in your area for dried guascas, or in a pinch, substitute with oregano for a slightly different (but still delicious) sabor.

This ajiaco recipe is as healthy as it is delicioso. Potatoes and rice provide carbohydrates which give your body energy, and vegetable broth is packed with nutrients. Plus, choosing homemade stock means you skip the extra sodium and preservatives in many store-bought varieties. Make this dish even better for you by skipping the cream garnish like I did.

Healthy soup tip: Always choose broth-based soups over cheese-based soups, chowders, and bisques which are high in calories and fat.  I love guilt-free Minestrone soup or Mexican potato soup.

Fill your fall with nutritious, authentic recipes like Colombian Ajiaco soup to celebrate Latin American cuisine as you stay warm and healthy.

¿Need Meatless Monday inspiration? Click here to read more of my recipes.

The Wise Latina Club's Natalie Wagner FierroA teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What is your favorite soup recipe?